Death, taxes, and sex ruts, these three things are certain in life. Or are they? Yes, there are certainly times during your relationship with your husband when it’s appropriate to purposely abstain from having sex, and yes, there are certainly times when sex seems less than appetizing, but does this unpredictable state always have to result in days, weeks, even months, without sex? A no-sex rut? And if not, what can you do to prevent, treat, and avoid these dry spells?
So you haven’t felt “in the mood” lately. Instead of just reacting to that feeling, lean into it, and get curious. Why haven’t you felt in the mood? What would get you in the mood? What can you yourself do about it? Is there anything your husband could do to help whet your sexual appetite? What do you feel you need, right now? What do you feel you would need in order to have sex tonight?
These are just a few questions to help you get started, and you’ll easily find more along the way as you start to flesh out your answers. The important goal here is to get yourself out of the habit of reacting and to instead start responding.
Sex is a necessary part of every marriage, and to simply recoil from it without a second thought doesn't give it the dignity and respect it deserves.
Sex ruts should be taken seriously, and that’s why we need to unpack and examine them. It may feel tedious and uncomfortable, but it’s part of maintaining a healthy spousal relationship. That’s why it’s best to start here, with non-judgmental curiosity. Once you’ve teased out some answers, the following sections can help you develop solutions.
When we’re stressed, sex is usually the farthest thing from our mind, and with good reason. Just thinking logically, when our bodies are stressed, our brain thinks that we are literally in danger (even if we’re not). And when is it not a good time to carry/have/raise a baby? That’s right, when we’re in danger.
Scientifically, this phenomenon is due to the stress hormone cortisol. Everyone has a little cortisol in their blood at all times, but when we are over-stressed, our brains tell our endocrine system to make more cortisol and less sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone). Additionally, high levels of cortisol stop our bodies from using these hormones properly. This means our sex drive takes a nose dive and usually takes all of our feel-good emotions along with it.
The best way to combat this is obviously to lower our cortisol, but that’s easier said than done. Luckily for us, there are a few “bio-hacks” out there, chiefly among them simply taking the time to take care of yourself.
We’ve already established that cortisol rises when our body and brain feel like they are in danger, so naturally, the best way to confront this is to show our body that no, in fact, we are not being chased by a bear at this very moment and our fight/flight response is therefore not needed. It’s imperative at this point that we seek out activities we would not be able to do if we were being chased by a bear. Things such as eating a nourishing, deliberately slow, anti-inflammatory meal. Making sure we are fully hydrated. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing. Soaking in a warm, mineralized bath. Minimizing blue light exposure, and getting adequate sleep.
Sometimes all we have is an evening (or even just half an evening) to cocoon ourselves like this, but in order to lower our cortisol, it's absolutely necessary. This sort of intervention is a slow medicine, so you may not feel completely restored after the first night or even the second night of taking better care of yourself, but with a little consistency and deep breathing practices throughout the day, eventually your body will catch on, and you will start to feel less stressed.
When we’re stressed, it's important (and effective) to show our bodies that we aren’t actually in danger.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your husband for help during this process as well. If you tell him what it’s for, I promise, he’ll only be too eager to help. Whether it’s taking the kids out or making that nourishing dinner for you, the two of you will be more effective as a team than just you attempting to tackle this problem alone.
Usually when our sex drive tanks, our confidence does too. Sometimes the inverse is true: Our self-confidence flops, and our sex drive comes tumbling down after. The solution here is the same for both issues, a confidence boost is needed.
Figure out what caused your confidence to crash, and set about remedying it. Are you concerned you’ve gained a little too much weight lately? Go hit the gym or find a different exercise routine you can participate in regularly. The good news here is that getting out and exercising just once or twice will give you the endorphins you need to get back in the sheets. You won’t have to wait till you lose some pounds before your confidence comes back. Properly taking care of your body will give you enough, and it’ll only grow from there.
Finally, communicate your lack of confidence to your husband. Whatever it is, tell him about it, and I promise, he will not only help you find a working solution, but he will build you up in whatever way you need. The connection and support alone will serve as a massive confidence boost as well.
Get Your Detox On
Sometimes a decrease in libido is due to hormones either 1) being out of whack, or 2) working exactly as they should.
Every month, women of childbearing age typically go through a 28-ish day menstrual cycle. During this cycle, it’s normal for a woman to experience a waxing (during ovulation) and waning (during the luteal phase) of her sex drive. What isn’t so normal, however, is for her to feel out of sorts all cycle long. Now, this could obviously be due to multiple factors, but if you're experiencing unusual acne/hair growth, irregular bleeding, lethargy, unexplained weight loss/gain, or extreme mood swings, it could be worth getting some blood work done and checking on your hormones.
While you wait for the results, it never hurts to give your body a little TLC to support its mission of straightening things out on its own. These days our lives are bombarded with endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals from candles, clothing, cleaning products, water, food, makeup and skincare, and many OTC medications. And while we can’t remove all toxins from our lives, we certainly can reduce our toxic load and support our body’s mission to maintain homeostasis.
No-sex ruts can also be caused by pent-up resentment or lack of communication. This is important to know because, for most females, communication is an integral part of intimacy, and not feeling heard or understood is one of the quickest ways to crush your sex drive.
Work with your husband to create an open-air environment where complaints and grievances are treated before they can fester. This will allow your husband to attend to your needs and you to his, since, let’s be honest, neither of you are mind readers, so unless you both are discussing your unmet needs, how are either of you going to know what those are?
For women, not feeling heard or understood is one of the quickest ways to crush your sex drive.
If you aren’t already in the habit, set aside a little time each night or an hour or so every weekend to discuss your relationship. Let each other know what’s working and what could be improved upon.
Sex is not required for intimacy. It’s an aspect of it, and an important one to be sure, but it’s not the end all, be all. In fact, John Gottman, psychology professor at the University of Washington, marriage researcher, and the founder/director of The Gottman Institute, claims all it takes to drastically increase a relationship's intimacy and longevity is six extra hours per week. He calls these the “magic 6 hours.”
In addition to investing a little bit of extra time and intentionality into your relationship, try doing the same for your sex life. Take some time to figure out your “desire type.” Most women fall into a combination of the two categories “responsive sexual desire” and “contextual sexual desire,” meaning that not only does the environment have to be just right for them to want or even think about sex, but additionally, their desire for sex is heavily dependent on their partner's initiation.
If either of those descriptions sound like you, think about what strategies you can implement to help you get into the mood more often. More than likely, there are things your husband can help with, such as flirting with you throughout the day or helping to set the stage ahead of time for a romantic night in. Either way, once you are aware of your desire type and how it affects your sex drive, coming up with a strategy that works with you and your unique psychology becomes easy.
Get Off Porn and Stop Masturbating
Let’s just get really practical here. If you're feeding whatever sexual appetite you have left with porn and masturbation, there’s probably not much (if anything) left for your husband.
Additionally, just like how porn can cause ED for men, women too, are susceptible to sexual dysfunction when porn is a part of their lives. It essentially rewires the reward pathways of the brain so much so that it can make it impossible to orgasm without it.
At the end of the day, sex and sexual pleasure should really only be undertaken by the husband and wife together, and masturbation is kind of like throwing a party without inviting the guest of honor. It just doesn't make sense. So give your sexual relationship with your husband a fighting chance and spend all your pent-up sexual energy on him.
What If It’s Not You, It’s Him?
Usually it’s the male in a relationship who has the higher sex drive, but sometimes it’s not. Additionally, men are just as susceptible as women to all the issues we’ve discussed (except the fluctuating female hormones thing, obviously). But anyways, what’s to be done in these situations? What if it’s not you, it’s him?
While we are all in charge of our own thoughts and actions, it also does take two to tango. If you’ve noticed a decline in his sex drive and you’ve tried initiating a few times to no avail, find a non-confrontational way to talk with him about it. Don’t approach him with how he needs to do better, but instead, ask how you can help. If you accomplish having this discussion with him in a non-judgmental way, chances are, with your help, things will start to improve.
You can also try tapping into your nurturing side as well. Guys need TLC too, and a warm meal, an encouraging presence, and compliments all go a long way.
How To Avoid Future Ruts
Sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget all about our sexuality. We play the part of employee, mother, teacher, gardener, chef, maid, nurse, and chauffeur, none of which require sensuality to get the job done, but we frequently forget that, principally, we are a wife. This is the most important role that we play and, therefore, should take the highest priority in our lives. Consequently, though, this duty requires our sensuality. So, in light of all that we do, how can we keep that in mind? How can we keep our role of wife from becoming just another thing on the to-do list (something very un-sexy indeed)?
Put Your Husband on the To-Do List
So I know I literally just said not to do this, but you should do this. For some couples, it works really well. They come to an agreement on how many times/what days of the week they’d like to have sex, and then they stick to it. This works for some women because they can then spend the entire day preparing themselves. And I don’t mean that in some “lie back and think of England” way, I mean that if she needs/desires, she can spend the whole day cultivating anticipation and excitement for herself by fantasizing about her husband, sending and receiving flirty texts from him, and deciding how or if she wants to set up the bedroom in some special way. For some couples, scheduling sex gives them the ability to take sex from something that may or may not happen to an event.
Scheduling sex can take sex from something that may or may not happen to an event.
Let Your Husband Take the Lead
I know this might sound counterintuitive to some, but hear me out… The more a woman can relinquish control, and the more she can relax, the more her sensuality and femininity can blossom.
Let your husband take the lead. Trust him to know your likes and dislikes, what turns you on, and what really gets you going. Men are natural-born hunters. They love the pursuit, especially if their quarry is your orgasm. If you’re comfortable, let him rise to the challenge of figuring you out and turning you on by saying yes to him even if you’re not in the mood just yet.
Be open about your feelings, though. Have a conversation before things get going, and let him know that you’re not ready to have sex yet because you’re not feeling into it, but you’re more than willing to let him try to warm you up. Chances are, he’ll be attentive in ways he never has been before. He’ll take things slowly and do them so sweetly that you’ll be begging for him to pounce on you before it’s all over.
If that’s not how things end for you, however, that’s ok too. Saying yes to foreplay is not saying yes to sex, and all good husbands understand this. If it’d make you more comfortable to address this before partaking though, by all means, do so! Not only will this help him truly understand where you are mentally and adjust accordingly, but it’ll also allow him to protect himself, and you, from disappointment.
Lastly, letting your husband lead can happen in more rooms of the house than just the bedroom. Sometimes, due to past hurts and trauma or current fears, we as women strive to take control of everything and everyone within our home. We can feel like if we don’t, things will fall apart, just like they did in our internal world. This is a problem for two reasons: 1) control is an illusion, and 2) controlling is not the same thing as leading.
Now, I’m not saying that women can’t lead, but I am saying that a woman’s typical natural design is to control rather than to lead, while a man’s typical natural design is to lead rather than control, and if a woman can learn to relinquish control and trust her partner to lead, she (and her family) will be happier. She will go from feeling like she’s her husband’s mother/maid/roommate to his lover and wife.
Now, obviously, the husband has to step up to fulfill his position, but here’s the thing: While women are receptive like water, men are like fire. Once he stops being smothered and is supplied with the right fuel, he will grow into his natural role as leader with relative ease.
Make Aphrodisiacs A Part Of Your Routine
Open to trying some foods and products that will help get you in the mood? Make a fun date night out of it, or just introduce these into your diet on a regular basis to help!
Try the following:
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Spicy Chili Peppers
The sexual relationship between you and your husband is a vital part of your marriage. It’s a sacred, life-giving act, and it deserves to be treated with respect. Additionally, it's something that makes the two of you vulnerable only to each other in a unique way. It’s why sexual rejection hurts so badly and why sexual frustration is extremely difficult to compartmentalize.
When we reject sex, we may feel like all we are rejecting is the act itself; our spouse, however, may feel like we’re rejecting who he is as an individual and as a husband. This is why we need to carefully consider our response to our husband’s advances even if we aren’t really feeling it.
No-sex ruts are easy to get into and sometimes difficult to get out of, but with the two of you working as a team and taking care of each other as only a husband and wife can, there’s really little reason to fall into one ever again.
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